Saturday, March 31, 2007

Mr. Gore, Speak out on Iraq

Former Vice President Albert Gore has become a man of focus as he won the Oscar Prize for his movie, “An Inconvenient Truth.” His environmental crusade is valuable, but he needs to tell about vital security issues to America and the world. He was the Vice President, not the Secretary of Environment. He is a politician, not a movie director. Therefore, Al Gore is expected to say something on Iraq and terrorism.

Currently, the Iraq debate is being intensified between the White House and the Capitol Hill. But in order to discuss whether this war is right or wrong, it is necessary to understand policymaking processes on Iraq and terrorism during the Clinton administration era. In view of post Ba'athist insecurity in Iraq, the media and dovish opinion leaders assume as if a Democrat president would not have intervened there to topple Saddam Hussein. That is wrong.

To discuss this issue, Robert Kagan, Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, appeared in Q & A of C-Span on March 4. He said that neo-cons and National Security Advisor Sandy Berger urged President Bill Clinton to invade Iraq. Let me review the interview briefly.

During the interview, Brian Lamb who is the host of this program quoted the famous letter to President Clinton from signatories of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) in 1998. Robert Kagan talked about the background of founding this think tank. In those days, isolationist mood was prevalent because the Cold War was over. Contrary to this viewpoint, Kagan said that the United States was facing new threats like authoritarian China and Russia. Among post-Cold War threats, Iraq was the most critical problem, as Saddam Hussein did not surrender pressure from the global community, even though he was defeated in the Gulf War in 1991. Also, Kagan mentioned that President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright were well aware that their policy against Iraq was not strong enough.

Saddam Hussein refused UN inspection in critically dangerous areas, such as his presidential palace where huge stockpile of weapons of mass destruction were expected to be found. Saddam tried to obstruct inspectors, which raised further concerns among Western policymakers.

National Security Advisor Sandy Berger agreed with signatories to the letter, and he requested President Clinton that the United States resort to tougher measures as containment policy did not work against Saddam. Kagan said that the Monica affair hindered Bill Clinton from attacking Iraq.

Above all, Robert Kagan pointed out that Albert Gore was a leading hawk in the Iraq debate. Had he won the election in 2000, Gore would have attacked Iraq, Kagan insists. Why? Saddam was willing to invade Iraqi neighbors, if he had some slight opportunities. He invaded Iran and Kuwait. In addition, dealing with Iraq was a 10-year problem.

More importantly, 9-11 led American policymakers to reaffirm Iraqi threat. As it happened right after Pearl Harbor attack, White House leaders realized the danger comes from on going problem. Robert Kagan asserted that any president of the United States would have acted as advocated in PNAC letter to Bill Clinton in 1998.

Albert Gore has an obligation to talk about Iraq when he was the vice president. Moreover, he was the president-elect for a while, until what liberals mention “the Notorious Florida Accident” happened. He is in a position to tell the global public, how the Clinton administration evaluated the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. In addition, he needs to address his policy on Iraq and terrorism, because he could have been the president to fight this global war.

Anti-war activists and liberals blandish airy fairly tales that President Gore would have acted peacefully to deal with Saddam’s Iraq. However, it is vital to remember that the White House has been exploring topple Saddam Hussein for a decade. There is no wonder that Robert Kagan insists that even Al Gore would have attacked Iraq after 9-11.

There are too many people simply blaming the Bush administration for post Baathist insecurity in Iraq. However, it is important to remember that cabinet staff of the Clinton administration agreed unanimously that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq posed serious and imminent threat to the United States and its allies. Without understanding policy debates under the Clinton-Gore team, no one can evaluate current situation in Iraq properly. This is the reason why “President” Albert Gore must speak out on Iraq, as well as he does on global warming.